I bet most of us have seen, heard, bought or downloaded some of the “world music” (hate that name) from PUTUMAYO, LUAKA BOP or ANTI records.
However, fewer of us have heard about one lil’ label called PALENQUE RECORDS which has the most significant afropercussion and champeta artist in Latin America, and home of one the best bands in the whole world, sexteto tabala de palenque, who are without any doubt the deepest roots and first masters of everything we know now as cumbia and tambora.
Lucas Silva is a film maker and producer, owner and CEO of Palenque Records, and a great humble guy who took a break in his agenda to give GB and the whole world an interview and drop some of the finest acts from Colombia
GB: WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START PALENQUE RECORDS?
Lucas silva:I started palenque records in 1996 , recording the first album ever by Sexteto tabala, in a yard in Palenque – I’m originally a filmmaker , but music has always been my passion — during the shooting of my films I met lots of great afro-colombian artists living in misery , then I thought , If I don’t produce them , nobody will do ! So I started my label like that ..I didn’t know anything about music or the business..I just did it , cause it was urgent !
Why release the film and the records in france and europe, not USA?
LS:I don’t give a shit about Usa….I’m interested in African culture and I think Paris is a great place for that ..as Paris is the capital of Africa in Europe, and a place to meet lots of different people n’ world music ( I don’t like that name either but anyway…) works better in France and Europe that in USA, and there are better labels in Europe, in my opinion …..
GB:Do you think European people like this music because it sounds tribal, and exotic, made by direct slave descendants and not what it really is?
LS:Maybe, but also some Colombian people, and they look at their own music in an exotic way –Colombia is a very racist country, anyway…the colonial mentality is strong and people don’t even wanna get aware of that.
In Europe I found more interest and aid/help for this music, than anywhere in Colombia until now. But things are changing in Colombia now, afro colombian music & culture is more recognized
GB:LET’S TALK ABOUT CUMBIA
I’m sure you are already familiar with the neo cumbia fever all over the world, what do you think about this movement?
LS: Cool , they should keep on developing their music – cuz we’re now with champeta!-man just say to everybody : We’re coming soon to put everything upside down with some new music.
I’m going to release in UK –so Champeta people of the world wait the attack anytime soon! – a new revolution is comin ‘ !! THIS IS WHAT WE ARE DOING NOW!!!
GB:Sweet loco!! We can’t wait..Now, going back to san basilio,what real “cumbiamberos” or people from palenque think about this?
LS:They just don’t care…the range of music they listen is very large…but they are kinda indifferent about it –culturally talking , its really far away from the music they like..
GB:If you ask Colombian musicians,not only from cumbia, vallenato, but also from rock and fusion, they all have a huge respect for those masters palenqueros, like sexteto tabala, gaiteros de san jacinto, and now the africolombia and son palenque, so why they don’t get the recognition they deserve from the radio station or the newspapers?
LS:Because Colombia is a crazy democracy …the first who ever did a record of tabala was me….and I did it because I strongly believe that if haven’t done it , nobody would have done it – Palenque records has released til now :
The first record of Sexteto Tabala
First record of alegres ambulancias
First solo album by paulino salgado batata
First champeta compilation , released in Europe (France) and distributed everywhere
That’s why we are the pioneers of afro-colombian music, and nobody has done what we have done – we can be proud of that, but in the other side of it we’d like to have more competition, or more people working , doing new independent labels.
GB: I know, Back in the days, when Discos Fuentes, had the most significant cumbia players and the best tropical catalog in the whole planet, why they didn’t have ANY from the amazing stuff or artist you have in Palenque records if some of these guys are 70 years old and even older?
LS:Because records labels in Colombia have always forgotten the best part of being in a label – and because that’s my job , or not my job I mean it is my passion, to look for unknown artists, to do research , go to the villages or the big cities looking for them – record labels in Colombia have been blind about many aspects of our cultural identity – the only solution , the only real hope for Colombian music, it’s independent labels.
GB:How was the experience to produce and record, Paulino Salgado a.k.a Batata?
LS:Amazing, unforgettable, mystical , a real kinda crazy experience – as jimmy Hendrix says : are you experienced ?? I experienced that , and for me it was a honor to have worked with the KING OF KINGS, the royal master of musical societies everywhere…Paulino salgado batata
GB:And recording the sexteto tabala?
LS:Recording with tabala is another strong experience…. Their music is like a river , the river of history and poetry , and fighting for this band and for their great music, it’s simply a great pleasure for me,
GB:Batata, now is seen as the Godfather of colombian afropercussion, he wasn’t famous back in the days, so why he became that influential?
LS:He became that influential because he was one the highest graded teachers ever on the afro-colombian percussion –he became that famous because he was a big master even from his childhood , a kind of afro-colombian johnny lee hooker , or muddy waters..
NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT CHAMPETA!!
GB:why is Champeta seen like a low profile music?
it doesn’t have to be with the fact that most of the artist and public is afro-colombian, or does it?
LS:Yeah ….it has a lot to do with the fact that is was a black ghetto music in the beginning, now it’s not only black of course, is a Caribbean costeno thing also…but colombia is still a post-colonial apartheid society ,and a cruel country with his best sons. champeta has been forbidden many times, and the sound systems have been attacked by hundreds of politicians and local administrations.
GB:in most of posh or rich clubs in bogota, people find, sort of hip (funny) to dance champeta and cumbia these days, does it make it easier for real champeteros to become mainstream?
LS:It is a process that would take longtime…as it as all about putting two different societies together —
GB:probably you don’t know, but here in GB, we released an Electro-Champeta few weeks ago, it was the first original electrochampeta loyal to the african roots like soukous and calypso, what do you think people from cartagena would think about it?
LS:People in Cartagena and the Caribbean are great melomanos, musical collectors, and they have a great ear, and knowledge of music — you should test your music over there!
When can we have a listen to the new sexteto tabala single?
Very sooon, Palenque Records is releasing their new album in about one month – we will send you an exclusive pre-release theme!!!
Now, and final question, is there any chance for Caballo, to get into those amazing compilation you do?
Keep on working in your music , and maybe in the future…it is the music that command us , we are just instruments of it …!
LS:FINALLY, I HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE NEWS FOR YOU ALL—
I have the honor of working with one of the greatest english labels now : SOUND WAY RECORDS
PALENQUE RECORDS TOGETHER WITH LABEL “SOUND WAY “ –ARE RELEASING AN AFRO-COLOMBIAN COMPILATION VERY SOON , IN APRIL
THE RECORDS IS CALLED :::::
“Palenque, Palenque: ChampetaCriolla and Afro Roots in coastal Colombia 1975-85” compiled by Miles Cleret and Lucas Silva – Dj champeta-man original
FOR ALL MUSIC LOVERS , THIS IS GOING TO BE A CLASSIC , ONE OF THE VERY BEST ALBUMS OF THIS YEAR WE CAN TELL….with THE first afrobeat tunes recorded in COLOMBIA
WITH THIS RECORD YOU ALL GONNA UNDERSTAND WHY , COLOMBIA IS THE FIRST AFROBEAT NATION OUTSIDE AFRICA ¡! And see the whole history of this..